There is something deceptive about social media. For all the good it does by allowing us to share our every thought at any give moment it also creates a false sense of closeness between friends and acquaintances or, in the case of musicians, the artist and their fans. Anyone with a Facebook page knows the reach their messaging receives is far smaller than the size of their fanbase, and even though Twitter buries their analytics a little deeper than FB the same gap between reach and audience size persists. There is simply no way to guarantee everyone on every network you keep will receive your messages unless, of course, you are willing to pay for such exposure. I know you would rather avoid that, and honestly I feel the same, which is why I must urge you to consider focusing more marketing efforts on building your personal mailing list.
Whether you’re trying to get the word out about your music at shows or online, directing fans to join your mailing list is the best way to ensure continued engagement with your brand and music moving forward. Followers on social networks are good, and they certainly help make your band look more established as the count continues to rise, but when it comes time to engage those so-called fans you never know exactly who will receive your message. The latest video or song stream may reach those diehards who live for your creativity, or you may reach those people who completely forgot they even gave your page a ‘Like.’ The scattershot delivery of social media simply does not offer the kind of specified reach you need to ensure your marketing reaches everyone you hope it will without first requiring a fee, and while you can certainly pay for exposure mailing lists provide a much more cost effect solution.
By gathering email addresses from fans both online and in the real world you are gaining access to every follower’s personal inbox. People may not read every post in their Facebook or Twitter feeds, but most people make it a point to at least browse the subject of every email receive, and that fact alone should tell you why email is the best way to engage with your fans. It’s through email that you can actually get a moment of their time away from the constant barrage of messaging and third party advertising that comes with posting to social networks, and it’s in those quiet moments of personal engagement when a real relationship with followers can be developed. The sheer fact they offered their email should tell you they have an invested interest in your continued success, and with direct access to the people who believe in you most you should be able to leverage their support to better promote your current and upcoming musical endeavors.
Having direct conversations with fans through mailing lists is about more than increased sales, though that should be more than enough reason to have one. These mailings also offer you, the artist, a chance to better understand your fans. The people on your mailing list are essentially a test audience for everything you do moving forward. You can track the way they engage with messaging and marketing by watching the analytics of each email, and you can ask them to give you feedback on new songs or ideas you want to share. If they’re invested enough in your music to allow you to further fill what is probably already a very busy email inbox then they would probably be overjoyed at the opportunity to feel they play a pivotal role in how you function as an artist moving forward. Share your dreams with them, and ask them to share theirs with you. This will further forge your connection with fans, and in time it will be those connections that ultimately help you build your music empire.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.